How To Make Users Want to Fill In Your Forms

Online forms are a digital marketing gateway. They’re the filter between the people who are merely interested in your content, product, or service, and the people who will become paying customers. But when it comes to your forms, do your potential customers actually want to fill them in?

Forms can either ease the transition between “merely interested” to “paying customer,” or they can frighten away potential business. Here are a few ways you can optimize your online forms so that users will actually want to fill them in.

Entice users with great content

You can spend hours designing beautiful forms for your website, but if potential customers don’t believe that the form will lead to something significant, they won’t bother filling them in.

After all, there’s no point in using forms to generate leads if those leads don’t turn into paid business.

Unless your content adds value, your form is essentially worthless.

The best way to ensure that users will fill in your forms is to give them something worthwhile on the other side. By optimizing your content, you can entice potential customers to click “submit.”

Offer valuable content

Whether you’re trying to acquire sales leads by gathering basic contact information, capture a customer’s feedback, or simply attempting to get more subscribers to your newsletter, you’ll need to grab their attention with your content first.

One of the best ways to garner form submissions is by having information on an optimized landing page alongside your form that includes details about what’s in it for the customer.

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Including things like attention-grabbing headlines, bullet points that highlight benefits, content previews, and calls-to-action will create curiosity and make potential customers want to know more. You can also include text in your forms that mimics the language in the landing page, helping to create a natural flow between reading and submitting.

Another great way to gather submissions is to include a short call-to-action at the end of your content preview with a promise of more (and equally beneficial) content. This technique works especially well if your content or service is intriguing and fills a knowledge gap or need from the customer’s perspective.

It should be noted, however, that this only works if your content is meaningful to the customer. If what you have to offer isn’t worth the time it takes to submit the form, having forms may actually turn away further business. By ensuring that your content is genuinely beneficial, you can eliminate any hesitations and capture customer data.

Utilize your microcopy

Another important and often overlooked feature of any successful form is the language that’s used to guide people while they’re filling it in. Microcopy, or the small bits of text that instruct users or address concerns, plays a crucial role not only in getting users to fill in the form, but helping prevent errors that slow down the process.

Joshua Porter, co-founder of the product design Rocket Insights, blogged about his experience using microcopy to minimize errors on his forms (you can check out the whole article here). After receiving multiple error notifications on one of his forms, he realized that his microcopy wasn’t giving clear enough instructions.

“I remember the first time I realized how much even the smallest copy can matter in an interface,” Porter says. “It turns out that the transactions were failing because the address people were entering [on the forms] didn’t match the one on their credit card.”

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Porter quickly changed the microcopy on his form to notify users to enter the address information associated with their credit card (instead of a general address) and the errors stopped. In light of this lesson, he encourages designers to add microcopy to all areas of their forms, including notifying customers that they can unsubscribe from a newsletter at any time, or that their email won’t be spammed when they sign up.

It can also help to add more natural language styles throughout your forms and in your call-to-action buttons that promote the benefits of your content. Using copy such as, “Sign me up for this free service” or “No, I don’t like free stuff” can humanize the process and guide users through the form by minimizing confusion. The less room there is for misinterpretation of complex jargon, the smoother the process will be.

Don’t miss: 5 Unique Forms that Make Users Want to Fill Them In

Make your forms easy to use

The best way to get users to want to fill in your forms is to make them as quick and easy to use as possible.  Here are a few ways to make sure your form experience is painless:

Use a mobile-friendly design. Whether you hand-code your forms or use a design service like FormKeep, having your forms accessible on mobile phones and tablets will broaden the range of people able to use them at any given time. The more available your forms are to users, the more likely they will be filled in, especially if they are busy or travelling.

Enable autofill features.  Enabling features like autofill can help shorten the time it takes to fill in your forms. Google Chrome offers its own autofill feature, and by optimizing your forms to use browsers like Chrome (or by adding microcopy that indicates that this feature is available) you can help users move through your form effortlessly.

Use a clean, condensed, and easy-to-read design. Not only does a clean design save layout space, it saves the user time and effort jumping or scrolling around the page. Having a simple, clean form also prevents form fields from being missed, and gives the user less work for the same results.

Make sure the user has a quick escape option. No one likes being forced to fill in a form, so if you’re using pop-up forms, make sure you include a big ‘X’ in the corner or a noticeable “No Thanks” button at the bottom.

Make the form as short as possible. Only capture the information you absolutely need to use. You can always follow up in an email notification asking for additional concerns or questions.

Change your form types to help lazy users. Try using radio buttons instead of form fields to create a “one-click” form submission experience for passive users. The less work the person filling in the form has to do, the more likely they are to do it.  

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A/B test for the best results

Of course, the best way to ensure that your forms are optimized for user experience is to test them regularly. Like Joshua Porter realized during his microcopy experiment, sometimes updating and testing the smallest parts of your form can have huge impacts on conversions.

A/B testing, sometimes called split testing, will help you compare and contrast which versions of your forms and landing pages are producing more conversions.

Testing things like form placement (above the fold or after the fold?), form labels (do your form fields go next to instructions or below them?), personalized microcopy and call-to-action buttons (should you say “Sign Up” or “Join”?), and even testing your design and color schemes can help clarify areas of your form that slow users down or prevent people from filling them in.

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While there are no set rules when it comes to making your forms more appealing, by having great content, clean design, personalized microcopy, and frequent testing, you can ensure the best user experience possible and turn interested site visitors into actual customers.

Why Agency-Client Communication is a Bigger Problem Than You Think

Agency-client relationships are all about partnership. The relationship between an agency and client needs to be strong and healthy to survive the constant onslaught of project deadlines, meetings, and creative differences that arise throughout the working relationship. The stronger the relationship, the better the results.

According to a 2015 study by the Association of National Advertisers (ANA), seventy-four percent of clients who work with creative agencies believe agencies play an important role in driving their own success, and rely on long-term agency relationships to further their business goals.

For many agencies, these long-term client relationships are equally as important to success. Agencies often spend thousands of dollars each year developing and maintaining client relationships. Yet with all the effort spent on hiring experts, developing marketing strategies, hiring the right teams, and providing excellence service, developing a plan for good agency-client communication is often overlooked.

A good communication plan is essential to maintaining any successful business relationship. Cycles of poor communication can lead to dissatisfaction, failed projects, financial losses, and worse yet, loss of reputation in the industry. But because many agency-client interactions are more collaborative than other business – especially in the creative fields – effective communication is even more important, since communication often goes through multiple channels to multiple sources before projects are completed.

Many agencies run into issues of over or under-communicating with their clients – either communicating too little, leaving clients confused or worried about project deadlines, or communicating too much (or about the wrong things), overwhelming clients with too many details.

Reversely, clients often have a difficult time expressing their needs to agencies through the proper channels, leaving many agencies struggling to meet the demands placed on them.

While these breakdowns in communication can come across as merely annoying or “just part of the job,” they can be detrimental to the bottom line if not properly addressed.

The most common types of communication breakdowns


One of the biggest communication failures between agencies and clients is a lack of communication. This problem can also include a lack of useful information being processed between parties. If the agency forgets to respond to emails, leaves out critical information, or is too vague about project demands, for example, it can cause clients to feel they’re being ignored.

Clients will sometimes overcompensate for this perceived lack of communication by providing massive quantities of (often useless) information, which is not always helpful for the agency, as much of it will not be necessary to the task at hand. Agencies may respond to this information overload by ignoring pieces of information, which may cause clients to feel misheard or misrepresented. This vicious cycle leaves agencies feeling overwhelmed and clients feeling devalued.

On the reverse side, if agencies over-communicate, clients may feel overwhelmed and overworked and assume the agency is too incompetent to manage the project on their own. One example of communication overload is agencies placing a heavy reliance on email communication over more personal styles such as meetings or phone calls.

Phil Simon, author of Message Not Received, says that the average person receives 120 to 150 emails per day, making it extremely common for clients to misplace, delete, or forget to read their emails. When too much information comes across a digital platform, overload is more likely to happen, which can cause clients to disengage.

In worst cases, this disengagement can lead to entire projects being stalled. While constant communication is important for any development project, over-communication or communication about issues that aren’t essential to the needs of the moment can leave many clients feeling confused or overworked.

Having a strong communication plan in place is important to combatting these communication issues. Knowing when, where, how often, and to whom communications should be sent can alleviate the burden on clients and allow agencies to manage projects more competently.

Of course, communication plans only work when the relationship between an agency and client is already established. If there are breakdowns within the relationship, poor communication will only cause further problems. Some experts warn that poor communication within an agency-client relationship is actually a symptom of something far worse.

Poor communication is often a sign of deeper problems

In 2014, RPA and USA Today conducted an anonymous online survey of more than 140 agencies to better understand what makes successful agency-client relationships. In their report, The Naked Truth, they discovered that ninety-eight percent of agencies and clients agreed that trust was a major factor in maintaining relationships, but that poor communication was a major factor when there was a lack of trust.

Poor communication can be a sign of underlying trust issues between agencies and clients, and can play a major role in the dissolution of otherwise successful business relationships. If an agency struggles to connect with clients on a consistent basis, for example, it can create uncomfortable distance in the working relationship, resulting in unnecessary overreactions when smaller issues arise. agency-clientcommunication03

If the client feels like the agency isn’t listening to their needs or has trouble getting those needs met on a consistent basis, they may either react with a desire for more communication (which the agency may not be able to fulfill) or they will slowly withdraw and look for alternative solutions.agency-clientcommunication02

Without first establishing the kind of trust that leads to healthy agency-client communication, tensions can build over time until one or both parties walk away from the relationship all together, resulting in financial and networking losses for both.

The good news is that trust can be built and protected by intentionally stewarding good communication patterns.

Three ways to promote trust through great communication

Since communication is a skill, it can be learned and improved through intentional practice. Strong communication skills may need to be relearned during the course of a relationship, especially if there have been patterns of poor communication in the past or a history of mistrust. Here are a few ways agencies can ensure they are maintaining healthy communication with their clients (and vice-versa).

Be consistent and reply quickly

If an agency has issues with slow or inconsistent communication, it can hinder workflow and create communication barriers. Replying to emails and phone calls as quickly as possible – or sending additional emails notifying clients when they can expect a reply – can go a long way in boosting confidence. Setting a 24-hour rule to responses (or faster if it’s an emergency) and sticking to it will help foster trust.

Adapt your communication styles

Misunderstandings are one of the most common communication problems for both agencies and clients. When a client has trouble interpreting the intentions of an agency, it can cause confusion and slow down the workflow, since additional messages are required for clarification. Making sure communications are well written, clear, and concise before sending will help eliminate that confusion. It can also be helpful to restate the main concerns at the end of an email, phone call, or meeting to ensure everything was properly communicated.

Be open and honest (but don’t overreact)

Being open and honest (but respectful) with clients can help build strong relationships and promote good communication. Being courteous and sincere but honest about perceived complications will create a safe environment for both parties when problems arise. When complications do occur, address them quickly and confidently without assigning blame. If the relationship is already shaky, overreaction can cause non-issues to escalate into impossibilities. Asking “Why,” “Why not,” and “What” questions will help clarify and refocus the discussion while calming fears that clients aren’t being heard.

Getting Creative With Contact Forms

Contact forms are the bread and butter of any business’ website. They’re how you gather new leads, convert prospects into real customers, and support your existing ones. They should be one of the places you focus on most when designing your website: A/B testing different solutions, getting creative with layouts, and optimizing conversion rate.

Unfortunately, most contact forms are the last priority when designing a website. They not only end up looking rushed or out of place within the context of the site’s design, but identical to every other site. The contact form is the end of the user’s journey through your website, and should be one of the key areas that differentiates you from your competition. It can be a real waste when your website uses beautiful fonts, colors and graphics like this:form-1And then your contact form looks like this:form-2

It can be difficult to come up with ways to get creative with your contact form. Most contact forms only need three pieces of information: the user’s name, a way to contact them, and a short message. The easiest way to do that is by simply using three text fields and a submit button. But getting creative with your contact form can improve the quality of your leads, increase your conversion rate, and bolster your brand’s reputation for good design.

Provide Options

The default contact form is great, but not always the most suitable. They’re not great for receiving immediate help, or for complicated requests. By providing different options at this point, users can pick what suits them best. Here, Chargebee offers not only the default contact form, but also a call back request. Placing links to the company’s social networks here would also be a good idea (Twitter and Facebook are great ways for getting in touch with a company).form-3

Fit the Design

A beautifully-designed website will impress visitors and sell your business. But since your website is essentially a path leading towards your contact form, having this final point in the journey be comparatively disappointing will tell visitors that you don’t pay attention to details. If you can’t get such an important aspect of your own site right, how can they entrust you with their site?

You don’t have to go to extreme lengths to create an entirely new contact experience – simply taking the time to design the form around the rest of your site is a great first step. Saus, a creative communications studio, has styled their contact form based on a physical postcard. At its base, it’s still just a couple of text input fields and a submit button, but it fits perfectly into the context of the website.form-4

Give Context

One way to improve Saus’ form would be to give the user some expectation of when they might receive an answer. If they call immediately, will there be someone to answer? If they email, will it be minutes, hours or days until they receive a response? Huge does this well by appending the current time to each of their offices. Now the user can tell whether or not it’s currently business hours, and can get a rough estimation of how long a response might take. If it’s currently 2 AM, you won’t be getting a response until later in the morning. But if it’s 2 PM, you can probably expect one within the hour.

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Give a Head Start

One big discouraging influence in many contact forms is the blank text field. Name and email address are no problem – the user already knows those, it’s just a matter of being willing to share the information. But a big blank text field saying “Message” is daunting. The user needs to figure out exactly what needs to be shared, and worry about what they might have forgotten to include. A great solution to this problem is a mad-libs style contact form, like the one below  from Andrew Haglund.form-6

Eliminate The Blank Page

Even if you don’t want to go full mad-libs style, there are still ways to avoid the blank page syndrome. Prime users with multiple choice questions, then use placeholder text to further guide their answers.

Break It Up

Some contact forms won’t fit into the simple name-email-message structure, and will need to request a bit more information from the user. Placing a lot of text fields on screen at once is a sure way to scare users off, especially those with limited time. By breaking up long contact forms into sections, the form appears smaller and gives the illusion of taking a shorter time to fill out. Creative Digital Agency Harbr breaks their contact form into three steps. The final step is still a freeform text input field, but by this point the main questions have been answered, and this field is more of a support, rather than the critical piece.form-7

Get Graphical

Most form elements are pretty boring by default. Typeform spices up their designs by using simple illustrations instead of radio buttons. The illustrations remove the reliance on detailed copy, and allow users to skim the form. The less reading involved in your form, the faster users can fill it out, and the higher your conversion rate will be.form-8

Be Analytical

Whenever you’re making changes to your contact forms, make sure you track and analyze how the form performs before and after. If the changes you make reduce interaction rates, that’s not necessarily a bad thing! You might be reducing the rate of users asking questions that your website already answers. Keep track of how many useful conversions you get, and use the data to guide your design decisions.

Bridge the Gap Between Tech and Non-Tech

In the software industry, project managers and marketers want to get things done quickly, without the complications of bureaucracy. They want the business to grow, money to pour in and more and more new things to be implemented and revolutionize their company. Some of them want to become rich and famous, well – at least in their well-delimited sphere of marketers and managing staff.

Developers on the other hand want to focus on one task at a time, write amazing code that changes the web and servers, be challenged and tackle some of the most difficult computer science issues and solve them, and especially – not get constantly interrupted and distracted by endless trivial requests. “Programming is best done “in the zone” — a (pleasant) state of mind where your focus on the task is absolute and everything seems easy. This is probably much like “the zone” for musicians and athletes.” says Morgan Johansson who calls himself a “professional software tinkerer”, senior.  

A while ago on Quora someone asked programmers what they thought when hearing the phrase “I just need a tech co-founder.” A lot of rage almost instantly started pouring on from there as more and more techies joined the thread. “The[se non-tech founders] just care about equity,” commented cynically one developer. A couple of comments down, a CEO calls programmers “arrogant”, to which comes the response that non-techies should stop being so defensive, and everybody has ideas, let’s see how we put them into practice or rather, who puts them into practice for us.

Soft Skills Aren’t Lesser Skills

As newer startups have commenced building more diversified teams with an increasing overlap in capabilities, there still remains a sense of mistrust between tech and non-tech, a confusion about how to assess a person’s “soft skills,” attributes that enable them to interact effectively and harmoniously with other people, the widespread assumption that these skills are inferior to “hard skills” – specific, teachable abilities required occupationally.

If programmers are able to understand “soft skills” as competencies, they may be more likely to appreciate their value and the potential of having a non-tech person on their team. Capabilities of this sort may be the ability to make difficult connections, among ideas and concepts that are at least apparently unrelated, an understanding of one’s place in the world, the ability to critically assess how systems work (and fail), an openness to learning, a “mental playfulness” as Bill Watterson calls it that allows one to “wander into new territories” even if unsure of what they may find.

Many in the tech-world undervalue soft skills: this is most evident in the belief that artificial intelligence (extremely capable at hard skills, but not so much at soft skills) will be the solution to all mankind’s problems. Google’s Director of Engineering Damon Horowitz, who studied artificial intelligence with a specialization in natural language processing, said that it was while studying philosophy that he came to realize that no matter how much he improved upon it, the AI system itself had its limitations and the changes would not be incremental. He says his focus then shifted from assuming that machines could resolve all of our problems to looking at how they could “facilitate human problem solving” instead.

One can argue that this expansion of the mind is also connected to the ability to have a broader or “macro” view of things. For instance, Reid Hoffman, founder of LinkedIn, said that through studying philosophy at Oxford, he wanted to “strengthen public intellectual culture.” Caterina Fake, founder of Findery, knew she wanted to create something around the idea of community and the sharing of stories through art. The acknowledgement of different kinds of capabilities is a necessary first step to bridge the trust gap between tech and non-tech.

What Do you Wish Your Boss Knew?

Most likely the director of your company is a non-tech figure. The manager who’s the people’s person / with people’s skills – or so you’d hope at least – and who’s really good at marketing the product and getting it out there, in the eye of the storm. But you, the dev, have your ideas and contributions too, to the management of the business – at least internally. Some of the best contributions a developer could bring to the non-techies’ team and managers to bridge the gap would be:

Empowering the non-techies to do technical work by teaching them or encouraging them to learn tools that are easy for anyone to learn. From how to use Photoshop and Illustrator Essentials down to using tools such as FormKeep to generate forms or bringing minimal edits to the stylesheets, these situations are win-win. Win for the developer which won’t have to come back on editing and re-editing or correcting typos that can be identified and fixed in a second by the non-tech, win for the non-tech in terms of adding hard skills to his trade. It might seem such a tiny thing, a change of size of the typeface, color, or other tweaks that may seem irrelevant and yet save you from having to dig through miles of code, while someone from the non-tech team that has stumbled upon the discovery while doing the QA testing could edit it there and then.

Helping them understand that perceived output is not the same as actual output. A poor developer will write unsustainable code, and then jump around from one bug to the next, spending nights and weekends in the office and impressing their superior’s. A good developer will spend time thinking about the problem (which from an outside perspective can look like daydreaming). They’ll write clean, stable code, clock out at 5pm, and appear lazy in comparison to the first developer. Yet the latter developer is infinitely more valuable to the company than the former. Unfortunately, this can be very difficult to perceive from the outside, especially for those not already tech-oriented. Engaging in discussions with developers about these issues can help to understand what it is developers do all day, and help form a good instinct for evaluating employees.

Problem pattern matching. Getting your boss to learn coding is a big ask, and takes away from more important things they could be doing. Getting your boss to learn how to think like a coder, on the other hand, is beneficial to everyone. Thinking like a coder is more often than not a simple game of matching problems with known solutions, and knowing when to apply which solution. With enough involvement in project details, your boss will eventually come to know the most common solutions.

Assist with the interviewing. This one is really a direct corollary of the contribution right above. Your developers might just be the right figures to help you select new personnel, especially when it comes to positions that can be difficult to understand from the outside. Although developers and designers, for example, can often be at odds with each other, a good developer can identify a designer they’ll get along with, and vice versa. Involving the developers can ensure you’ll have the right questions to ask to figure whether the interviewee is a good fit or not.

Recognize merits. Recognize when non-tech makes efforts to learn about the tech world. A little bit of gratefulness goes a long way, and it’s important to positively reinforce any behavior you want more of. If your manager is learning HTML, or the marketers are learning Photoshop, that helps communication between you and balances the workload. If they have trouble, help them out in a way that lets them learn for next time – don’t just speed through the job while their eyes gloss over.

Learning to Think – An Independent Task

If you are a non-techie, odds are you might have more initiative towards taking tasks that push you out of your zone of comfort. Therefore perhaps the approach of Caterina Fake, oil painter and linguist turned techie entrepreneur, doesn’t seem so alien after all. She wanted to “translate” her training as an artist onto the web, and in the end programming languages, apart from being logical and mathematical are, precisely how their name goes, languages. More than learning to code, the long term goal for non-techies is learning how to think like a coder.

Developing a sense of logic in fact is not only mathematical – a science logics was a part of the human sciences for thousands of years, a branch of philosophy. It teaches and involves the use of precise and formal methods of thinking, such as abstractions, boolean logic, number and set theories so you can solve problems in an air-tight manner. One of the best ways to understand the human mind is to try to replicate it. Topics like AI, machine learning, natural language processing are not just part of computer science but also biology, psychology, philosophy, and mathematics. Damon Horowitz, Director of Engineering at Google, suggests that most of the evil in the world comes not from bad intentions but from “not thinking.”

What developers want most of all – to solve problems – could be the key to solving this gap. Creative problem solving is a skill considered both “hard” and “soft”. As such, it’s a key part of the lives of both tech and non-tech. Understanding that both camps are using the same skills in different ways can help the communication across the gap. The big difference is that while tech uses creative problem solving to solve technical problems, non-tech uses it to solve human problems.

That said, the best programmers are those who use creative problem solving to solve both technical and human problems at the same time. They’ve realized that the software that they’re writing is for people, even if it’s just the back end of a complicated system or a protocol that no one but other developers will ever use. They write documentation because it’s important. They help people use their code. They’re willing to go the extra mile and deal with a bit more complexity to give the people using their software the right solution. This is the point where techies’ and non-techies’ best intentions should converge, in the People First Axiom, because this is the goal that can ultimately bridge the gap.

 

How to Use Integrations to Save You Time Every Day

Software created by startups is innovative and develops much faster than old-school software. But these startups are prone to shutting down, pivoting, or getting acquired just as quickly as they rose in the first place. You might read about a new application, try it out and love it—only to have it get bought out and shut down less than a year later.

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Since you can’t rely completely on any one software, this modern software landscape encourages you to use lots of applications that do one thing really well, rather than one application that does everything. When you want to try a new application, or the one you were using gets shut down, you can sub it into your existing process quite easily.

This approach brings a new problem. Instead of all of your data being contained within the one application’s database, it’s now spread in 15 different databases. Each time you update one of those databases, it’s now out of sync with the other 14, until you manually update each of them.

Why Integrations?

I’m currently writing this on Dropbox Paper, as I love focusing on the writing instead of a million different formatting options. Once I’m finished writing it here, I’m going to copy and paste it into Google Docs, and then update Trello to let the rest of my team know they can review it and make comments and amendments.

They’ll often message me on Slack to let me know about any required modifications. Sometimes they’ll email me. Once the writing part is done, we’ve then gotta move everything from Google Docs into a few different applications. The blog gets moved to WordPress, the newsletter gets pasted into Drip, and we schedule all our social media posts through Buffer.

Phew.

That’s a lot of applications, and a lot of human interaction between them. Not only does this waste a lot of time copying and pasting information between applications, but it means that information is delayed until someone can pass it along. etc. Not only that, but unless I’ve got all the applications open at all times, I can easily miss a notification and trip up the whole process. Not only that, but copying and pasting has potential for human error, and the more copying and pasting there is, the greater the risk.

This is where integrations come in.

What are Integrations?

Most modern applications provide Open APIs, which allow you to run the software from outside the application. For example, you can create a new Trello card using just the command line. But for most of us, that’s not very useful. What is useful is combining two different applications’ APIs using Webhooks: messages that get triggered upon a certain event, and sent from one application to another.

What this means in non-developer is that instead of using the command line to create a new Trello card, you can take any application you’re already using, and get that to trigger some other application you’re already using. Without changing the applications you’ve learned to use, you can eliminate a lot of the manual work necessary to link them together.

What This Means For Your Business

Entrepreneur Simon Senek, author of “Start With Why”, attended the Gathering of Titans, an annual 5-day retreat for entrepreneurs at MIT, and was shocked that many of the business owners in attendance had lost focus on why they started their business in the first place. They spent their time “poring over financials or some other easily measured result, and fixating on HOW they were to achieve those tangible results”, and had become totally removed from actually leading their businesses.

If you’re still manually generating reports or crossing your fingers that all your online orders have been properly fulfilled, you are spending unnecessary energy on operations that can be easily automated. This is time and energy better spent focusing on your core mission.

Getting Started With Integrations

The two most popular Integration Platforms as a Service (iPaaS) are IFTTT and Zapier. IFTTT allows you to connect two individual applications together using one simple statement: “If this, then that.” Users can create ‘recipes’ that combine the triggers and actions associated with each application, with no coding or technical knowledge required. IFTTT is, however, a more consumer-focused platform, whereas Zapier has a clear focus on small to midsize businesses and enterprises. Since that’s probably you, let’s focus on Zapier.

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Zapier is an integration service that lets businesses sync data, connect web applications and automate tasks without writing custom code or requiring extensive technical knowledge. Zapier offers a variety of unique pre-built connections called “zaps” and features over 200 online service providers. The Zapier Zapbook includes web apps such as Asan, Basecamp, Buffer, Disqus, Dropbox, Evernote, GitHub, HootSuite, FormKeep, MailChimp, Salesforce, Trello, WordPress, and Google Apps. Zapier recently launched a new API Status Board which monitors the uptime and downtime for every API used by Zapier.

When getting started with integrations, take a look at each of your processes – design, development, sales, onboarding, etc.. Identify any point that involves simply copying and pasting data from one application to another. These are areas that are prone to error and waste time. Of particular importance are points in your processes that block someone’s work until the data is copied across. For example, if your contact form submissions go straight to your inbox, you’ll get a notification immediately. But your salespeople will have to wait until you have time to input the new lead into your CRM. With integrations, they’ll get a notification at the same time you do. You can even turn off your notifications! Your job there is done, and you can trust your salespeople to follow up as soon as they can.

Although today’s iPaaS vendors make it possible to connect many business, social and cloud applications together, iPaaS is not a silver bullet. The extent to which applications can be integrated depends on each application’s API. Basecamp recently released a fantastic new version of their product, but failed to provide an API. This means that users have the unfortunate choice of using the old version and keeping their integrations, or updating to the new version but reintroducing all that manual work.

However, as iPaaS becomes more popular and necessary, the demand for powerful APIs in every application will increase. And as more and more small web and mobile applications are created, the need to bring data and applications together will increase greatly.

How to Gain New Clients as an Agency

For budding agencies, finding new clients is a constant effort. Larger, established agencies often have enough word-of-mouth marketing to bring in more clients than they can handle. But smaller or early-stage agencies can’t rely solely on word-of-mouth promotion, simply because they don’t have the clients to do it for them. Although a marketing plan might seem like something for a more rooted agency, it’s in fact most important for younger agencies.

Design business expert David Baker looked at several hundred design firms over two decades, and his conclusion was that: yes, ok, you do need a graphic design marketing plan, but it’s not what will bring you most clients.

Understand Your Clients

Finding new clients as an agency is not like project management, accounting or IT. You must get intimately involved in the process. If you truly are after getting new – and worthwhile – clients, immerse yourself in your clients’ world rather than your peers’.

Understanding your clients’ needs will go a long way towards generating trust. Agency Scout Debra Giampoli says she won’t work with any agency who hasn’t done their homework. Agencies should know the roles of their potential clients and what they value in an agency. By finding out these things, you can more accurately target specific clients, with a higher success rate.

Build up Confidence and Expertise

Successful people radiate self-assurance. Get out there and profess credible claims, with the certainty that you’ll be able to deliver with ease. Price your work accordingly – underpricing yourself puts you in a lower-tier market, and gives the impression of a less-capable agency. Higher rates may scare away some clients, but they’re generally clients you can afford to lose. In reverse, lower rates may place doubt into bigger clients – the ones your agency needs.

Finally, deliver with solid design solutions. Your reputation is built around what you repeatedly do, so if you’re over-promising and under-delivering on a regular basis, it won’t make for good word-of-mouth advertising. Not to mention the stress this adds, having to deal with upset and disappointed clients.

You may be able to burst into any room (or email inbox), but if you don’t have compelling things to say when communicating with clients, you’ll quickly lose their attention. Craft a statement that people won’t easily forget. Again, understanding your clients and their needs goes a long way to creating a truly compelling pitch.

Sharing is Caring

The ultimate lead generation tool is content marketing: keep an awesome blog that targets and attracts the kind of people you’d like to work with. In time you can establish your agency as an authority and thought leader. Social media is an obvious supplemental tool, but always back up your tweets and Instagram pics with long-form, educational content.

Whether you’re writing case studies, blog posts or short and sweet punchy tweets,  always keep in mind the entire user experience. Will your users reach your blog through social media, newsletters, or Google? How might this affect how they interact with your blog, and the rest of your website?

Don’t use your blog or social platforms for sales pitches. People will follow you if you’re providing useful and interesting content. If all you post is blatant advertising, followers will drop off as quickly as they sign up. Focus on posting up your best work, and let them speak for you.

Keeping it Organized

Make a name for yourself by getting organized and delivering on time. Don’t be in a rush to accept more projects when your hands are already full. With an outstanding portfolio, good clients will be more likely to contact you ahead of time, without the expectation that you’ll start the project yesterday. “Reputation is the foundation to generating new job leads and keeping a steady stream of orders lined up in your email”, says Kevin Harter of Hongkiat and owner of Crystalint Media.

Follow up on any leads as soon as possible. Every hour you delay responding to leads reduces your chances of converting them to a client. If you’re not already, set up an automated email response to any contact form submission. Zapier is a great tool to integrate to whichever form solution you’re using. Use this initial email response to give your client a next step that isn’t just “wait for us to reply”. The more targeted you can make this email, the better. If you’re not able to set up a next step based off the limited information gathered in a contact form submission, maybe ask for a little more information from them. They’re already invested enough to submit a contact form, so asking for some more information about their project won’t raise much resistance.

Some agencies disregard databases when tracking their client interactions. This is a big mistake: databases are priceless. Maintain an up-to-date lead database, and keep track of any prospective clients. Record the name, address, email and phone number of any potential clients you’ve contacted, regardless of how you communicated with them. Don’t get discouraged if you don’t convert a lead to a client on the first, second, third or even fourth contact. 80% of sales require 5 follow-up calls after the initial meeting. 92% of salespeople give up before this 5th follow-up call, meaning 8% of sales people get 80% of the sales.

Find Your Niche

Set your agency apart from your competition by delivering what others can’t. Whether it’s punctuality, beautiful user-focused design, or the ability to creatively solve problems, let your prospects know about it. “Clients will buy from a place where they are likely to get something extra. Find the ‘extra’ for your business,” says Kevin Harter.

A Cohesive Marketing Plan

In spite of what you might plan or dream will happen, most great clients will come from indirect efforts such as client connection, a vendor, employee or supporter connection. But while it could be any of these things that cinches the deal, all of your efforts play a part. An agency with a good reputation, educational content marketing, a strong customer understanding and a little something extra will always beat out a rival agency with a weak spot in any of these aspects. If you can’t promote yourself well, how can a client expect you to promote them well?

Designing Forms that Convert

A huge part of the success or failure of an online business depends on its forms and their ability to convert viewers into paying customers. Contact forms must gather essential information on leads, and checkout forms must endear enough trust for users to hand over their credit card details.

Designing forms is an art. There are many subtle elements: your forms must be brief yet exhaustive, noticeable yet non-intrusive, unambiguous yet not trivial, minimal yet interesting. Web forms should be about the user experience above all else – but they must also provide you with the data you need to run your business.

Luckily, there’s a lot of simple things you can do to increase your conversion rates without sacrificing data quality.

Reduce form length

Many companies have massively increased conversion rates by just removing a few unnecessary fields from their form. Expedia, for example, eliminated one field (company name), and gained $12 million/year in profit. Imaginary Landscape compacted their form from 11 fields down to 4 and found a 120% increase in conversions. Even better – the field they removed had no real impact on the quality of leads generated.

Don’t ask for phone numbers

Almost every contact form involves asking for an email address, but some forms ask for a phone number as well. Including a phone number field decreases your conversion rates by about 5%. For businesses that rely on post-click sales calls, this may be a worthy trade. But for most, it’s better to leave it out, or at least make it optional. In one study by Luke Wroblewski, making a phone field optional led to a 37% drop-off on the phone number field entries, but doubled the conversion rate of the whole form.

Show the password

By default, any password field in a form masks all the characters with asterisks. But like Reset buttons on forms, this seems to be one of those 20-year-old decisions that have become “just the way things are done”. Password masking then led to people making mistakes when entering their password and not being able to log in, which created the “Confirm Password” field that everyone loves.

But if we just take a step back and reconsider whether that 20-year-old design decision is still serving us well, maybe we can remove another form field! Many companies like MailChimp and Amazon are now presenting a single password field, along with a checkbox to show the password as plain text. In one A/B test, Formisimo found that replacing the Confirm Password field with a Show Password checkbox increased conversions by 56% and decreased the number of corrections made (from mis-typing or second-guessing) by 24%. Interestingly though, it had no effect on the password reset request rate.

password-afterpassword-before

Use the right inputs

When you’re deciding which form fields to keep and which to throw out, keep in mind that not all fields are equal. The cost of keeping or adding a field depends on what type of field you’re adding. One extra text input field won’t do much to your conversion rates – just a $12 million/year loss . Adding one text box can drop your rates by almost 10%. It makes sense: most single-line text input fields don’t involve any creativity or decision-making. It doesn’t require effort for a user to recall their name or email address. A radio button is slightly more difficult, but at least all the possible answers are pre-defined. But a text area means that the user has to get creative and come up with a response on the spot – usually a complex message or comment. If you must include a text box, think about marking it optional.

Dropdown boxes aren’t as bad as text boxes, but they’re still significantly worse than single-line input fields. If your dropdown box only has a few options (5 or less), try replacing it with radio buttons. Radio buttons are faster to interact with because they allow the user to see the answers before they click on the input.

select-radio

Real Time Validation

If you’re only validating upon form submission (or worse, not at all), you’re missing out on a really easy conversion rate boost. Luke Wroblewski ran a few studies and found that real-time validation increased conversion rates by 22%, decreased errors by 22% and decreased completion time by 42%.

Focus on your Call to Action

Ok, so now you’ve optimized the hell out of your form fields. What else can we do to increase conversion rates? Let’s look at the Call to Action (CTA). Minor changes to your CTA can make a surprisingly big difference on conversion rates.

The first thing to look at is the color and position of the CTA. You may have heard of HubSpot’s study – they ran an A/B test on one of their client’s websites, and simply changing the CTA’s color from green to red improved conversion rates by 21%. So does this mean that you should immediately go out and change all your green buttons to red? Not necessarily. Take a look at the website HubSpot was testing:

cta-contrast-1

The logo is green, the icons are green, the screenshot is green – so of course the red button stands out a lot more than the green button. Take a look at the following design – which of these buttons do you think will convert better?

cta-contrast-2

So the lesson to take out of this is not “make all your CTA buttons red”, but “make sure your CTA buttons contrast well against the rest of your site”.

Once that’s handled, take a look at your CTA copy. It may seem that as long as it’s clear which button is the “Submit” button, and it says something like “Submit,” you can’t go wrong. In fact, Dan Zarella found that “Submit” is one of the worst words to use for your CTA. Take a look at the graph below: “Click Here” performed almost twice as well as “Submit,” and more than three times better than “Register.”

cta-text

But don’t go rushing off to change your CTA buttons to “Click Here” just yet – think about how to best apply this to your design. Optimizely increased their conversion rates 27% by changing their CTA text from “Get Started” to “Test It Out.” They concluded that “this language made it more clear that the user could try it immediately without a long process. We thought “Get Started” presented a more hands-on, involved process.” Taking another look at the above graph, this makes sense. “Click Here” involves absolutely no commitment – it’s purely a directive. “Register” on the other hand, sounds like going to the DMV and spending three hours in line.

A/B Testing

Before you make any modifications to your forms, use an A/B testing setup to compare your conversion rates before and after. Maybe you’ll be able to add in a new input field without sacrificing conversion rates. Perhaps you’ll finally get an objective answer on what text to place in your CTA button. With time, iteration and solid data, you’ll be able to increase form conversion rates and boost your client base.

Bridging the Gap Between Tech and Non-Tech – A Marketer’s Perspective

It was 2011 and I had just started working for a web company in its IT sector. My role was one of the less “defined” ones, at the confluence of sales and tech, a bit the middle-man amongst departments that were in tacit conflict. There was always at least one project sold under a misunderstanding or misrepresentation.

When pointing out an impending disaster to the directors (such as a project being undersold, or us being unprepared and understaffed to complete it on time), they would take the sales rep’s side because “he is the one who brings the money in, certainly not the devs.” Yet it was the devs who were turning those projects into concrete realities. It was the devs who should have been consulted for an in depth requirements analysis and a correct time cost evaluation, for sales to evaluate the money cost from there on. The departments, however, avoided communicating with each other whenever they could, assuming the other’s affairs were secondary to their own. They both overestimated their grasp on the other team’s skills and endeavors.

Now try for the sake of discussion to put yourself into a CIO’s shoes. Picture your IT department. What will your first thoughts be? Will you lament the money the department has wasted, or linger on frustration due to poor results, delays and bitter compromises? What measures should you take?

Business First, Tech Later – Or Is It?

Corporations teach that IT must be run like a business, with CIOs as business leaders, not technology pundits. Investments into IT should be spurred by business strategy. Nevertheless, at the 360 IT infrastructure event in London in 2010, with the recession causing a shift in IT roles and responsibilities, the general sentiment was that IT is very much a “changing face of business.” Attendees seemed to acknowledge the necessity of developing oneself and one’s staff into well-rounded, “business-savvy and technically-skilled” workers.

The results of an ulterior CA Technologies study from 2012 on over 800 global businesses showed a clear disconnect between IT and their execs as the main reason for missed opportunities for revenue growth and reduced customer engagement and satisfaction. 34 percent of the Business respondents in the survey dubbed their relationship with IT as “combative, distrustful or siloed”, and almost just as many on the IT side agreed.

Perhaps the best solution is for both sales and marketing departments to better their technical knowledge, and for tech teams to improve their administrative and marketing knowledge?

The Middle Ground: An Insight on How To

Belinda Yung-Rubke, director of Field Marketing at Visual Network Systems, is sure the answer sits in finding a common language and setting up common objectives, while Jimmy Augustine of Hewlett Packard urges a forceful bridging of the IT and Business gap. “The two should be one, like peanut butter and jelly. The right hand should know what the left hand is thinking and vice versa.”

Jeff Tash, CEO of Flashmap Systems, Inc and author of the free Architecture Resource Repository Site, recommends a three-step approach to bridging this gap: Consolidate, Standardize, Communicate. Initially, this involves eliminating redundancies, reducing resources, and aiming for reusable products and services instead of one-offs.

Most important is the final step, communication. Marketers and techies can often speak completely different languages. One group talks about B2B, B2C, CPCs, CPMs, DMOs, PPAs, PPCs, ROI, and UGC, and the other talks about HTML, CSS, JS, SQL, XML, JSON, IDEs, and APIs. It’s important to define a common vocabulary, so that no one is nodding along in meetings without any idea of what the discussion is about. Tash recommends to “make certain that both technical and non-technical audiences share a unified knowledge base” to ensure a dialogue of ideas, rather than a monologue.

We often see an expectation for techies to speak the marketer’s language, but not the other way around. In Vish Mulchand’s opinion, “the bosses you have to get the budget from don’t care about the technical side of why you’re pitching for a certain investment; they want to know how it will improve the business and grow revenue, so the tech guys need to know how to communicate this.”

It can be difficult for marketers to find motivation to learn tech language, but it can lead to more independent and self-sufficient behavior. In larger organizations, a simple typo fix can take weeks to make its way through bureaucracy. In smaller agencies and startups, you can usually just tap a developer on the shoulder and ask him to fix it. But consider the fact that even a one-minute interruption can require 10–15 minutes of ramp-up to resume working. With a little effort, marketers can learn just enough to be able to make small changes like these, avoiding bureaucracy and keeping developers focused and efficient.

interruptions

It might be wise to take a leaf from the startup world in this regard, where the lines between marketing, product and development become blurred. Instead of treating different aspects of a project as silos, marking territory, and making sure no-one crosses borders, all of these different aspects are treated as offensive weapons to win in the market.

Keeping Quality High When Rushing Web Development

No one likes a rush job. They usually mean high stress and late nights, and leave you disappointed in the end result. Unfortunately, many clients only come to you when they need something yesterday. But just because the deadline is tight, doesn’t mean the project has to be a hectic rush.

Plan

Often clients try to “speed up” the development process by skipping the early stages. If you bypass the proposal, discovery and planning stages, and jump straight into development, then you’ve circumvented half the work, right? Wrong.

If you have loads of time on your hands, you can afford to skip the planning stage (although it still would be a terrible idea). But when you have a tight deadline, proper planning becomes even more important. If you try to skip it to save time, you’ll end up losing significantly more time down the line.

“Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe.” —Abraham Lincoln

Whether it’s a website or application, following the Minimum Viable Product concept will help streamline your development process. Separate each requirement into “Must Have” and “Nice to Have”. You can then further separate them into what needs to be included for the initial release, and what can be added on in a future round.

Finally, if you’re not 100% sure on an idea, prototype it before building it out completely. When the deadline is tight, you can’t afford to lose valuable hours by coding up a flawed concept. Prototyping will allow you to test out your ideas quickly, get feedback from your client, and avoid wasting time going down the wrong path. There’s been an influx of prototyping tools in the last couple of years, so you’re spoilt for choice here. Some notable ones include InVision, Atomic and Marvel.

Pick the Right Tools for the Job

Using tools that are either too lightweight or too complex for the job will drastically slow down your web development process. Many agencies jump immediately to WordPress whenever a basic site is needed, but if you’re creating a blog or simple marketing website, consider using a Static Site Generator. Not only will they speed up your development process significantly, but since the end product is plain HTML, it’ll load around 6x faster!

If you’re creating an eCommerce website, instead of going straight for one of the old-school mammoth CMSs like Magento, take a look at some newer options like Shopify or SquareSpace. Both of these have beautifully-designed themes and take care of all the minor things – like hosting, analytics, and SEO – that would otherwise all add up to take away a lot of your precious time.

Don’t Start From Scratch

Whether you’re creating a completely customized design or a standard layout, using frameworks to jumpstart development is a great way to save time without sacrificing quality.

You can pick and choose the elements that you’ll need, to avoid bloating your site with unnecessary code. Even the most customized layouts will benefit from normalizing CSS, which makes your site render more consistently across different browsers, or a simple grid system like the one included in Bootstrap or Foundation.

If you’re a fan of Material Design, the developers at Google have put together a framework called Material Design Lite, which will allow you to quickly install its basic components to use in your site.

If you’re doing similar projects again and again, consider creating your own boilerplate code. For example, if most of the work you do is creating WordPress sites, creating a custom boilerplate will allow you to skip the repetitive part of the development process. Make sure your boilerplate includes all the generic functionality you need, while making it easy to build custom layouts on top. You could even include one of the above frameworks in your boilerplate.

If you’re creating a fairly run-of-the-mill design, it’s a good idea to start with a theme and modify from there. ThemeForest provides themes for many of the major CMSs like WordPress, Magento, Drupal and Joomla. Some of the newer CMSs like Shopify and SquareSpace have themes built into them. Unfortunately, many themes are quite difficult to modify, so unless the theme you pick almost completely fits your design, you’re probably better off coding it from scratch.

Even if you don’t go with themes, using plugins instead of custom code is a must when you’re pressed for time. Try and go for plugins that are style-agnostic, so that you don’t need to spend time overwriting the plugins code to get it consistent with your site’s design. For example, Wufoo is a popular way to build and insert a form into your website. Unfortunately, their solution is to iFrame in a form, which forces you to use their themes that may or may not mesh stylistically with your designs. As an alternative, FormKeep’s solution embeds plain HTML into your site, which gives you complete control over how it looks.

Done is Better Than Perfect

When you’re doing a rush job, you’re never going to be completely happy with the end result. Keep in mind that “Done is better than perfect.” This was one of Facebook’s maxims for almost 10 years. It represents the hacker culture that allowed them to grow so quickly, and will allow you to ensure your project makes it out the door on time. The maxim has since been retired, but only after reaching 1 billion users and being worth hundreds of billions of dollars.

done-is-better-than-perfect

If you’ll be working on the project after launch, a really great idea is to use a shame.css. The idea behind this is to put all of your hacky code (and there will probably be some hacky code, given that it’s a rush job) into one file that you can fix up when you have more time. By putting all of these hacks and quick-fixes into one file, they keep your main codebase clean and make them easier to isolate and fix later on.

Ultimately, when you’re in a rush, the most important thing is get get it done by the deadline. This means letting go of what it should be, and focusing on what it can be. “Out of all the different directions a design could go, the best one is the one that gets finished and ships.”Dan Cederholm, co-founder at Dribbble.

Why You Should Use a Static Site Generator

In the beginning CERN created the Web, and the HTML was the Word of the Web, and the Web was HTML. It was all perfect and perfectly simple, as we all know true genius lies in simplicity. But the problem soon arose that not everyone who wanted to have an online presence knew how to code. With plain old HTML, this meant that anything from a minor typo fix to adding a new feature had to go through multiple departments.

The birth of content management systems during the late 90’s carried the promise that you’d never need a coder or programmer again. With little or no knowledge of HTML or programming, the CMS would manage files and images, provide forms, complex content searches, and any other feature you could find a plugin for. But all of this came at a cost – websites became slower to build, slower to load, and it was difficult to really customize anything, so most people just bought a theme instead of creating their own designs.

The Advent of Static Site Generators

Brian Rinaldi, Content and Community Manager at Telerik, suggests “static websites today are just like vinyl LPs: they’re coming back.” Static Site Generators provide a middle ground between static and dynamic websites. There’s no abstract database – all the content is stored in text files. Instead of generating the content on demand, like a dynamic website, they pre-generate the content, so the user sees the file exactly as it is on the server. Adding and editing content is not as easy as on on a dynamic CMS WYSIWYG editor, but Markdown and Liquid templating make Static Site Generators a more flexible than an old school pure HMTL site.

All of this means that Static Site Generators are ideal for any site that doesn’t need to generate content on the fly. You can’t build a social media platform on a static website, but if you just need a blog or marketing website, Static Site Generators are the way to go.

Why have Dynamic CMSs been so popular?

Dynamic CMSs like WordPress or Joomla saw their moment of glory throughout the 2000’s because they allowed anyone to create or edit a template-based website. With very little knowledge of HTML, CSS or JavaScript, anyone can install a predefined theme and start writing blog posts, without having to go through a web developer each time.

Some dynamic CMSs are also fairly customisable – many massive companies like Wired, and Quartz, and TechCrunch have completely retailored WordPress into essentially a new CMS, making it ideal for their specific needs.

wired

Wired uses a customized version of WordPress

Why Are Static Site Generators On The Rise?

While dynamic CMSs are great for people who need a basic WordPress (or Joomla, or Drupal) theme website, or for massive corporations requiring e-commerce platforms like Magento that can support thousands of people, they create challenges for those in-between. For one, it is difficult to create custom layouts. Starting with a theme means hacking away at the existing code before implementing your own designs, and starting completely from scratch is a monumental effort.

Without a lot of development work, dynamic CMSs are slow. Even with development work, caching causes a website converted to static HTML to load significantly faster than the same site rendered from a dynamic CMS. Smashing Magazine ran a test on their own site – the static version loaded 6 times faster than the dynamic version. This is especially important for mobile devices, where internet can be inconsistent and unreliable. Studies indicate that 57% of online visitors will abandon a page if it takes longer than 3 seconds to load.

Static Site Generators play nicely with CDNs, such as Amazon, CacheFly or Incapsula, which have also been gaining popularity. When you open a webpage on a static website, that page simply downloads the HTML from the server, which on a CDN can be cached for faster speeds. With dynamic CMSs, when you load a webpage the CMS has to render the page on demand. Although assets can be hosted on a CDN, the webpage itself cannot, which means significantly worse performance for the user.

Dynamic CMSs also expose your website to hackers and exploits – and the more popular a CMS is the more likely it is for it to get under attack. Static websites simply don’t have back-ends to hack into.

Some Examples of Static Site Generators

Jekyll is the most popular example of a Static Site Generator – it integrates easily with GitHub Pages for free. This means free hosting! And GitHub pages are really, really fast.

jekyll

Middleman, Harp and GitBook are also popular. If you use these, you might want to look into Aerobatic for hosting. GitHub Pages is really aimed towards using Jekyll, whereas Aerobatic is generator-agnostic. Brian Rinaldi has put together a collection of simple sites built with various Static Site Generators, for an efficient comparative study of the lot.

How Can I Switch From My Dynamic CMS to a Static Site Generator?

The biggest challenge is rebuilding your existing layout, but since Static Site Generators are built around plain HTML, you can usually just save the HTML that your present CMS renders to your desktop, then cut it into a few templates and include files. It’s a lot easier to convert from a dynamic CMS to a Static Site Generator than the other way around.

Jekyll provides tutorials on importing your posts from many dynamic CMSs, including WordPress, Drupal, Tumblr and Joomla. However, pay attention: ensure existing URLs match up! You don’t want any links to your current website to break when you make the switch.